Pesticides in our Parks – Bernal Hill

The Natural Areas program (now called the Natural Resources Department) regularly uses herbicides in many of our parks. We’ve published pictures before of Glen Canyon and Mt Davidson.

This time, it’s Bernal Hill.

This hill apparently needs herbicides.

So they’re putting Polaris – that’s imazapyr – on the blackberry and cotoneaster.

It takes a five-person team.

[Edited to Add this section about the famous Bernal Hill Blackberry Patch.]


Hope they don’t take out the famous Bernal blackberry patch that’s brought so much joy to families.

It’s a thing, and has been for years. Here’s a 2008 article called Bernal Hill Blackberry Bonanza.  And here’s a quote from a 2009 article in the SF Chronicle, indentifying hidden treasures in San Francisco: ‘Bernal Hill Blackberry Patch. “The locals might hate us for sharing this, but there is a huge wild blackberry patch on the north side of Bernal Hill where we forage pounds and pounds of berries every summer for jam-making. So delicious.”‘ And the Bernalwood blog hailed the start of the blackberry season in 2012 in It’s Official: Blackberry Season Under Way in Bernal Heights

SFRPD – people love blackberries, and Bernal has the best crop in the city!

San Francisco Forest Alliance stands for no pesticides in our parks. We also hope that SFRPD will respect public resources that people love.

Blackberry and Pesticides

It’s blackberry season!

All over the city, people are picking the delicious berries off the Himalayan Blackberry bushes. At Twin Peaks, we saw someone intently gathering fruit in a small bowl from bushes below Twin Peaks Boulevard. In Glen Canyon yesterday, children were having a great old time snacking on blackberries along the trails.  The Bernalwood blog announced that Blackberry Season Underway in Bernal Heights. (It has some luscious photographs.) Even the Presidio’s Facebook page had a pictures of a berry bush and said, “It’s blackberry season. Did you know that park visitors are allowed to harvest very small quantities of the five-leaved Himalayan blackberry fruits?”

And we found this delightful video of four generations of San Franciscans making blackberry jam with blackberries picked right here in San Francisco. It’s  the little girl’s first year picking blackberries.

[CLICK on the jam-jar graphic to go to Making Jam with Grandma Kathy.]

It’s not just children who eat blackberries off the bushes. Birds and other wildlife do it too. [CLICK HERE for a link to an article with a great picture of a bird on a blackberry bush.]

So we were dismayed when people reported that pesticides are being used on Mt Davidson (again!) and this time, one of the targets is blackberry – right during the fruiting season. The pesticides being used are Aquamaster (glyphosate) and Polaris (imazapyr). [CLICK HERE for information on these herbicides.]

The notice says “The manufacturer’s notice says it is safe to enter area when the spray has dried. Staff will stay on site until spray has dried.”

We’re not sure that leaves the berries safe to eat.

And as for the area being safe once the spray has dried… we’re not sure about that either.

“Is it even possible for the spray to dry on Mt Davidson?” someone asked. Mt D lies within the fog belt, and it doesn’t dry out in the summer. “It is very, very wet in the green zone of Mt. D right now because of the fog. The paths are very muddy and the water is streaming down the road.” The photograph seems to prove the point. It was sopping wet.

How wet is Mt Davidson in summer?

Like this. This is all water from the cloud forest effect, the moisture precipitated from the fog.